Hackathon Offers $1 Million in Prizes


Technology nerds are being given the opportunity to see their greatest dreams come true with $1 million in prizes on offer in next week’s Dreamforce event. As part of the annual event hosted by Salesforce.com, the competition is aimed at app development for mobile devices.

Teams will compete in three categories each offering prizes including $100,000 for first place, and an overall grand prize of $150,000. The focus of the Hackathon competition is the future development of mobile technologies combined with cloud-based computing and social connectivity, and its application business. Over 25,000 software developers are expected to compete in the Dreamforce competition.

Held annually for the past 12 years, the Dreamforce weekend is considered to be one of the world’s largest software events. Salesforce chief executive officer and chairman, Marc Benioff, is one of several keynote speakers who will take to the stage over the four-day event. Former American Vice-President Al Gore and potential presidential candidate Hilary Clinton will also speak at the event, along with motivational speaker Anthony Robins, and representatives from industry leaders such as Microsoft Windows and Yelp.

Hackathons are often seen as opportunities to source and encourage innovation, and have been staged throughout the world for over 15 years. Usually combined with a series of demonstrations and discussions, the collaborative events may target specific topics or problems. Teams may spend several hours or several days working together, often sleeping at the venue; sleeping bags are therefore recommended for those intending to participate. Several Hackathons have been staged this year alone.

In one such occurrence, Microsoft hosted their own two-day hackathon in July as part of their “Oneweek” event. According to a Microsoft corporate blog post, CEO Satya Nadella saw the competition as an attempt to “reinvent the way the company does business and to encourage the rise of brilliant ideas no matter where they originate.” With $1 million offered in prizes, the Dreamforce Hackathon being held in San Francisco this coming weekend is sure to draw a large assortment of innovators.

Hackathons are so common that entire websites are dedicated to advising potential teams of upcoming and past hackathon events. Corporations such as HP, AT & T and Intel, are joined by other not so familiar names such as CodinGame, RESO and QuickBooks Connect in staging the competitions in a bid to seek out the latest and greatest in software technology. Other organizations such as research facilities and universities also use hackathons to encourage and discover innovation.

Georgia Institute of Technology held its first annual hackathon, named HackGT, in Atlanta last month. First place winners Nathan Dolph, Kevin Scheer, Keagan McClelland and Kevin Jasieniecki, won $50,000 as well as a start-up tool kit for their app, Pick Me Up. In true form for teams competing in hackathons, the HackGT winners had been fueling their efforts with coffee to compensate for the lack of food and sleep: a situation which caused McClelland to admit, “You know, if we win, I’m going to puke.”

Far from being the computer nightmare that hacking is commonly associated with, hackathons offer exciting and potentially profitable options for businesses and software creators alike. The Dreamforce event is expected to see around 135,000 people pass through its doors to watch the most innovative, creative (and some may say, the bravest) software developers work their way through four rounds of intense competition; and with $1 million in prizes on offer, there are sure to be plenty of wired participants at this year’s Dreamforce Hackathon event.

By Monica Grant

Beta Wired
The Daily Illini

Photo by @matylda, hakNYFlickr License

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.